Put this in the category of unbelieveable but true. Starting my car in the ordinary way one day, I noticed that the radio's LCD did not come on with the rest of the radio. Bummer, I thought. Looks like the backlight is out. I drove the car this way for a while, but missed the time of day, radio stations and the rest of the information on the panel.
Finally, I brought it into the dealer to find out if there was a simple fix for this problem. No, there isn't. Here's what I was told. "It's a non-repairable part, sir. We'll have to replace the entire radio."
So how much does a new radio cost? "That will be $800, sir. Do you have an extended warranty?" As you might guess from a previous column I wrote, I do not have an extended warranty. And believe me, the last thing on my mind if I had purchased the extended warranty was to cover the LED backlight in the radio.
What are the options here, other than to pay the $800? I can think of a few. One is to take the car to a place that installs radios and see what the going rate is for a new radio. Another is to go to a junkyard, find a car just like my own, take the radio out and install it in my car. Sounds like a lot of work to me.
Another option is to figure out how to front-light the LCD. I noticed during the day, that bright sunlight illuminates the LCD panel. At night, pointing a light source at the LCD illuminates the panel. A day-night gizmo, then, would have a mirror directing sunlight to the panel during the day, and a flashlight directing light at the panel at night. I actually tried the latter with a tiny LED penlight I got as a promotional freebie. At about a foot away, the LED penlight illuminates the screen fairly well. I haven't tried the mirror routine yet.
If I tried to sell the vehicle, though, I'm not sure how I would explain the electromechanical extension to the radio and how to switch from the mirror to the penlight depending on the time of day.
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